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If you've got a phone that shoots video, it's likely you've got lots of short clips on it - a few shots from a birthday party, something cute your kids or pets did, etc. But it's also likely that you don't do much with those videos beyond letting a friend watch them over your shoulder.
Why don't those clips see the light of day? Because they're just raw video without any context, transitions or polish. Plus, you may feel like you missed the party's best moment. The free iOS app Flixlab (the first non-beta version launches today) aims to liberate all that mobile video by making it easy to create a basic movie with your footage, and to share footage with friends who are at the same event.
It would be stretching things to call Flixlab (which is coming to Android soon) a video editing app. You don't make changes to your video through Flixlab. Instead you point to the clips (or still images) you want to put together in a movie, pick a visual theme and background music, and decide how long the movie should be. Then Flixlab uploads the clips to their servers, assembles them into a short film and streams it back to your phone.
If you like what Flixlab did with your video, you can download the movie to your phone or share it to Facebook. If your inner Spielberg is unsatisfied, you can change the order of the clips (by default, Flixlab puts them in the order you shot them), change the music, length or theme. And you can change who gets the most screen time (Flixlab allows you to tag your Facebook friends in the video segments, then choose one of those friends - or yourself - as the movie's star).
But any good auteur knows that you need more than one point of view to make a great film. So if Flixlab detects that one of your Facebook friends is in the same place at the same time, it'll ask both parties if they want to share video footage. So if you were at the punch bowl when the host of the party got pushed into the pool, you can still include your friend's video of the moment in your movie.
In my experience, Flixlab was remarkably quick. It took less than a minute for Flixlab to upload six clips and images and assemble them into a movie with a title page and transitions. Of course, Flixlab isn't immune to the law of garbage in, garbage out. If your raw video is boring, it won't be made exciting by a few cross-fades and a background soundtrack. (Flixlab provides royalty-free music or you can choose a track from your device. If you're planning to upload your video to Facebook, though, you'd better choose the generic, royalty-free option; Facebook immediately rejected a movie I made using a Johnny Cash classic in the background.)
If you're particularly worried about online privacy, you may be alarmed by the fact that Flixlab intends to keep your video on their servers indefinitely, unless you cancel your account with the company. And Flixlab puts a text ad for their service at the end of your movie. But for me, those issues were easily outweighed by Flixlab's benefits: it's fast, it's free and it makes something presentable out of those video clips that would otherwise languish on your SD card.
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